There should be special traffic laws for anyone driving with an infant. Maybe even a separate traffic lane. A lane with no stoplights, no school zones, no waiting for left turns, no slow drivers, no trucks, no trains and permission to drive 15 mph over the speed limit when you have a screaming infant in the backseat.
Yes, on Monday I took my first solo trip to the grocery store. With infant.
First we made a trip to Wal-Mart. I know – I have professed my hatred of that store before (click here) but I figured I had under 60 minutes to get everything I needed before Max exploded in a mess of FEED ME NOW wails and tears. Target was not going to happen. Good thing the trip went well. I credit this to giant shopping carts that were the perfect size for the Chicco carseat and everything we needed. The store was empty. The clerk was coherent (not always the case at the mart of the walls). The baby slept.
I pressed my luck. Nowhammynowhammynowhammy. Trader Joe’s was next. I parked the car and then it hit me – how do you grocery shop with an infant? Where do they go? I thought about bringing the stroller in but…how do you wheel a shopping cart and a stroller? Especially in Trader Joe’s where the aisles are as big as a needle hole
I walked up to the shopping carts and knew I was in for trouble. The car seat took up the entire cart. THE ENTIRE CART. The only way I was going to get food into this cart was to pile it on top of Max or shove it in the small corners between the cart and the carseat. I should have just abandoned the trip right there, cried uncle and went home. The endurance athlete in me decides to press on…I can do this. I will not be beat by the Trader Joe’s.
(foreshadowing: I got my ass handed to me)
Before I knew it, the cart was a mess of fruit, vegetables, yogurt – all piled up on top of, under and around the carseat. It looked ridiculous. I felt like a total rookie. Max was squiggling and letting out loud rebel yells (STOP THROWING THIS FOOD SHIT AT ME WOMAN! – you could see it in his eyes). Every item I add to the cart leads to another squiggle, that face that signals I AM ABOUT TO BLOW!
This can’t be the way women with infants shop, I thought to myself. But then again, I looked around. Do you even see any other women with infants shopping? Oh yeah – there’s ONE who is with her two other kids (true Ironmom, WHO is mad enough to attempt this?) with the infant crying loud bloody tears the entire time. And the rest? They’re probably all at home in pajamas, with a cup of coffee and bedhead trying to prop open their weary eyes with toothpicks let alone make a trip to the store.
About halfway through the store I realize that there is no way to cram any more groceries around the baby. And, he was getting more vocal, more restless. Close your eyes, I tell him by the eggs. A clerk looks at me like…are you talking to the eggs? Maybe. I throw a few containers of yogurt on top of the carseat. I don’t even know what I’m grabbing at this point – just grab food. We can eat food. Who cares what it is.
I get up to the register and realize the next problem – getting the groceries out of the cart all jammed around Max. Removing one item might bury my child in an avalanche of groceries. The clerk looks at me with pity. Max is for some reason finally quiet. I consider asking the clerk if he can just charge a flat fee for everything in the cart. Let’s not interrupt the quiet baby. Heck, how much for the cart, I’ll buy that too. I just need to wheel this thing all the way home to keep this kid quiet.
No such luck. He pulls every item out of the cart. The clerk assures me you’re doing a great job as he pulls a bottle of Kefir out of the carseat. Right. My kid is nestled up against a bag of spinach – THIS is a great job? I consider it a big FAIL! Max gets more restless, I get more antsy to get the hell out of there. I’m embarrassed…what was I thinking? What kind of mother does this?
More importantly, why the hell don’t we use Peapod?
Finally we’re in the car, and then it begins…the cries. The high-pitched I AM REALLY PISSED cries that always seem to be perfectly timed when I am driving the car in no position to go back there to soothe him. The other night was the perfect example. Foolishly, we went to the local criterium to watch Chris race. All was going well until my mom and I shouted GO CHRIS on the first lap. The kid can sleep through the hair dryer, the vacuum, a cement truck and a freight train (we’re keeping a list of everything he has slept through) but shout two words near him and all bets are off. Unfortunately the crit was 50 minutes plus 5 laps. When your kid blows up on lap 1 – you’re screwed. Ten minutes later I found myself in some stranger’s side yard nursing a very unhappy and hot baby. When we finally got into the car to head home, he was still crying. My mom questioned why I chose to take the highway home and I told her we could either risk sitting at every stoplight or drive at 70 mph with a small glimmer of hope that it will quiet him down.
He cried the entire way.
Trader Joe’s is about a 15 minute drive from my house. Unless you catch every red light. Unless you are driving through school zones. Unless you have a crying infant in the backseat – then 15 minutes feels like 15 hours. I try turning on music to cover up the crying but wouldn’t you know that for 4 minutes straight not one radio station on the settings was actually playing music!? Is it that freakin’ hard to play music these days!?
I’m trying not to get frustrated but at times like this – your mothering instinct kicks in. I’m ignoring my child. I’m not meeting his needs. What is wrong with me. Which then leads to the I’m a terrible mother thoughts. Which then makes me want to cry. Which then reminds me that I am still all hormonal from being pregnant. Which reminds me that I still look 4 months pregnant. And that really makes me want to cry.
I find myself talking to him to calm him down (note: does not help) when I realize I’m going 40 in a 30 and….awesome, there’s a cop. Since I got a ticket at 8 months pregnant (how could he ignore my big belly?), I’m guessing this cop would have no sympathy on me either. I start thinking up the story in my head – please, have pity on me, this was my first solo trip to the store and he won’t crying, there’s no music on the radio and and…look at me. My chest REALLY hurts, I didn’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time last night, my back hurts from carrying the damn carseat, all I want to do is run but I have to wait another 2 weeks and….my stomach went from flat six pack to THIS, at that point I would reveal the mess of my stomach and hope he would either be so horrified or pity me out of a ticket.
I did not get pulled over. Thankfully.
You would think after crying for 5 minutes straight the baby would just give up. Not the case. They don’t give up. They keep escalating. They slow down but then they ramp it back up with even more intensity. His cries are like a group ride. You coast a little then you’re putting out big watts as some jumps at the front of the pack. I think about pulling over to feed him but then think – how ridiculous. Like I’m going to pull over every time he cries in the car? I’ll never get any place!
15 minutes later, we pull into the driveway and right at that moment…he stops. The world might have stopped. The proverbial pin drops and I hear it – LOUD AND CLEAR. There is quiet in the car.
It was like nothing ever happened.
Chris comes upstairs. I am holding Max. Who now looks like the perfect angel of a baby. I grumble.
How do people go grocery shopping with an infant?
NOW YOU TELL ME!?
Max finally gets fed (the way he cries, you think I’m starving the kid), I take a break and eat some lunch while writing this. But as soon as I’m done, you bet I’m researching Peapod. Whatever the fee, I’m thinking it’s worth it. Consider it the cost of sanity.
(not surprisingly, I walked out to the store with no meat, no milk but two bags of trail mix; looks like it’s trail mix for dinner the next few nights)